A member of my family tried to physically assault me earlier this week, yet according to her, I’m the bad guy.
What did I do, you might ask?
I asked why she was so grumpy. That was it. No, seriously.
I’m writing this post because cutting ties with blood family is sometimes the only option a person has, for their own sanity and peace of mind. Yes it hurts, but it’s necessary to prune toxicity so that you can lead the healthy, meaningful life that you deserve.
Without diving into too many explicit details, because the focus of this post is simply that blood does not make family, I feel the need to give some minor backstory, if only to tie everything together and have this make sense. And while someone might roll their eyes at my claim and not believe that such a minor question could lead to something as dramatic as attempted physical assault, it’s the honest truth. If you knew this person, really knew them, it might be more believable. It might make sense.
But honestly, I don’t need you to believe what I’m saying. I require no validation, something this family member obviously craves. I had “the nerve” to point out her grumpy attitude, and when she baited me with name-calling, saying “fuck you,” and storming off, I ignored it. I did not go immediately running after her due to my lack of wanting to engage with irrational behavior, but also because why would I chase after someone saying such mean things to me? I literally only asked one thing: why are you being so grumpy?
My mistake, I suppose, was eventually following this family member outside and attempting to correct her wild accusations and assumptions. My comment on her being grumpy was based on her hostile and defensive tone during a few minor exchanges we had just had, which the conversations were about things so unimportant you’d actually scratch your head and question whether you heard me correctly if I explained them.
The details of this specific situation aren’t necessarily all that important, but rather leads into my belief that blood does not make family. At least not in me or my husband’s eyes. He has blood family he doesn’t talk to on purpose. And now so do I.
If people, even family members, are aggressive, hostile, and over-defensive when you ask them questions, make statements, or try to answer or help them in situations, then is that person really worth your time and energy? Do you really deserve to be caught up in the “walking on eggshells” lifestyle? I certainly don’t think you do. And I don’t believe in the, “well they’re your brother/sister/mother/father/cousin,” excuse either.
Let me give a quick example, so you understand what narrative fits my above description, because you can’t blame family members who give you attitude back when you are also being rude or aggressive or mean. That’s not what I’m saying. But take this one, as its a true story and is about the same family member in question, just a different scenario:
This family member picked me up to stay over at her place recently, and she just got a new car. When we got out of said car, she mentioned how she couldn’t find a way to turn on the door-light setting so that when she opens the door the interior light comes on. I simply said there’s usually a setting found wherever the overhead light is. She replied with a hostile snap: “I’ve never seen that before and I’ve already looked.” It was an over-aggressively-toned response for me making a simple statement about where I’ve seen the setting before. Pardon me for trying to help and I dropped it immediately with no reply.
But guess what we found the next morning? The door-light setting exactly where I suggested.
Having such a defensive tone, a hostile response to any sort of suggestion, or question, is just toxic. I’m not interested in being around toxic. Absolutely, one-hundred percent not into that anymore. See, I used to have a bad temper, and be toxic and aggressive. But I am not that person anymore. And I don’t cultivate those types of actions in my life. I cut people with those kinds of attitudes and actions out because I don’t want to be around that. I say this all the time: It’s not about what you say, but HOW you say it.
Tone and attitude and inflection mean everything when you speak. So pay attention.
But many people don’t pay attention to how they speak, and generally these are the types of family members that will also twist the narrative of what happened to fit their agenda. They’ll attack you, then gaslight you, and seriously believe that they are the victim. There’s a bit of delusion going on in their heads, but they fail to recognize it. They fail to accept any sort of responsibility for their actions, instead focusing only on the thing you said or did, no matter how minor.
Is it disrespectful to ask someone why they are grumpy? Or mad? Or sad? Or even happy for that matter?
Or, is calling someone a bitch, saying fuck you, and then trying to physically assault them actually what’s disrespectful?
It doesn’t take much common sense to figure that one out.
True friends and family should be able to have rational, albeit hard, conversations and point out flaws. We should be able to ask questions and initiate conversations without getting hostile responses. I’ve asked my husband why he’s grumpy before and he has never tried to assault me or flew off the handle. Usually there’s a reason, and we talk it through. Or, he needs some space and that’s fine too. What he doesn’t do is call me a bitch for asking. I ask because I care or because maybe he can’t see the behavior and needs an outside reminder that hey: something’s wrong. You’re not being yourself and you need to address that, or at the bare minimum at least recognize it. Even if all you do is be alone for a little while to get through whatever is bothering you, that little question should help you, not hurt you.
That’s what family and friends are for! Helping us grow, pointing out our flaws, and not letting us live stagnant in our toxicity. I would much rather have someone point out when I’m doing or saying things in a hurtful manner. And I try really hard not to get upset when someone points out my flaws to me. I have to listen to what is being said and see their point of view. I’m not saying to take everything said to you as law or an absolute truth, but generally if someone close to you brings up something that maybe feels uncomfortable to hear about yourself, there’s probably at least some grain of truth to it.
Listen. And take some time to think about it, yourself, and how you can be better.
We should be able to have conversations and talk about things, even bad things, even things that bother us, in good, healthy relationships. Whether it’s family, friends, or significant others, being able to talk on a rational level about the good, the bad, and the ugly is the back bone of keeping these relationships healthy.
So, this family member decided to burn a bridge with me after all of this. After I asked why she was grumpy, ignored her when she tried to bait me with name-calling, and then tried to physically assault me after I explained where my statement came from. The next morning, I was ready to forgive, but she had already made her choice, refusing to apologize or even talk to me, blaming me for everything. She burnt the bridge. I’m just stepping through the ashes and coming out the other side.
Does it hurt?
Yes. But I’ll be fine. I don’t deserve to be treated like I was. And I recognize that. I know where my boundaries are, and what respect I deserve. I strive to give that same respect, and I realize that with this particular family member, I won’t be given the same courtesy that I’ve worked so hard to grow into giving, at least not anytime soon. This family member needs some accountability and personal growth, but the only person who can do that, is them.
I’ve recognized hard truths about myself and grown past them into the person I am today. Everyone needs to evaluate themselves, take a good look at who they are, accept some responsibility, and grow. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself stuck in the same cycle of burning bridges with those closest to you.
Maybe you’ve burnt bridges with people and know exactly what I’m saying.
Maybe you’ve had close family and friends burn bridges with you, and know how much it hurts.
Or maybe, you are still in denial and don’t want to accept responsibility for your actions. That’s fine if that’s who you choose to be. Just don’t expect the rest of us to want to be around that kind of behavior.
It’s unacceptable behavior if you want to be in my life, especially if you can’t even acknowledge it and apologize. And if you don’t want to be in my life? Perfect, I don’t need anyone here who doesn’t want to be here. I love my life. Every part of it. I’m building something beautiful. I’m living my dreams and it is my hope that all people can achieve the level of happiness and beauty that I have found.
So I’ll keep cutting ties with blood family as necessary. True family isn’t always blood. It’s those who respect you, love you, and want to grow with you. It’s people who can have the hard conversations, and keep things calm and rational. It’s those who don’t always claim to be victims or believe they’re getting accused over a simple question or statement.
I hope you find your family, even if it’s not blood. I know I have both.
Until next time –
Yours for happy writing,